Monday, March 29, 2010

New watercolors from the live model. Trying out Aquaboard!

It's been one of those days! I tried to upload this post several times already, and either my computer wasn't working or someone spilled juice on the floor or taxi duty called...SO! I'm going to be brief...some new watercolors from last week! This top one is on 300 LB watercolor paper.

This is a progression on an Aquaboard, a primed masonite board (used to be called Clayboard, I believe) just for watercolor.  It absorbed quickly, but still allowed to "wash away" areas after they dried.

I was able to add several layers of color, and may even add more to the background.

This is just the beginning of this beautiful pose.  I thought I would stick with "antique" and subtle colors - soft browns, beiges and blues.  Luckily the model permitted me to take some references photos, so someday...I may even finish it :)

You can see more of my watercolors of the female model in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beets and Chocolate Cupcakes? My kids ate their vegetables!!!

OK I didn't believe it at first, but these cupcakes are REALLY good! 

My little girl (*sniff*) turned 3 this week, which of course means cupcke time! And since we are trying to avoid the nastiness that is food coloring because of the negative effects it has on my son's behavior, I searched for a good recipe that would allow me to make yummy cupcakes, and even some pink frosting, but would be food-coloring FREE!

I found this yummy recipe for beet and chocolate cupcakes and follwed it with a few minor adjustments.

I used Nestle Dark chocolate morsels instead of the dark chocolate shown, and it worked fine - I melted the chips and butter together in the microwave (don't over-cook! stir for a little while right before they are completely melted).

I also used canned beets instead of cooking and prepping fresh ones.  I used a 15 oz can, juices and all, and just pure'ed (sp?) it in my blender.  I had also reserved a bit of the juice, thinking I would make home-made frosting and use it for pink color, but ran out of time!  (My only concern...although Beets are supposed to be rich in vitamins and nutrients, the label claimed 0% for most...does canning eliminate the good stuff?!?) The recipe suggests beet powder to color the frosting, which you'd probably have to hunt down WAY ahead of time!  Some day I will try making frosting with the juice.

I also added some dark chocolate chips into the batter for a bit of extra chocolate, and I loved it...although Ari picked each one out of her cupcake like a treasure hunt!  If I make these again, I may use an extra ounce of chocolate melted into the mix rather than the solid chips.

But - hey! - how did they taste?!?! Well almost every 3 yr old in Ari's class ate them up - with just a dallop of Cool Whip on top - no extra frosting! Jack ate the WHOLE thing, and my neighbors said they were the best they ever had - not too sweet!  Even my husband ate a beet chocolate cupcake...although now that he KNOWS what's in there, I may not be able to slide it by him again :)

Happy Birthday Ari! Love you :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creative Stay-at-home-moms and why we sell on Etsy!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a journalist who was putting together an article about Women, preferably mothers, who sold their work on Etsy.  How did we discover the venue, why we do it, how many kids we have, etc.  I answered a few questions and today I got a note from Karina Ioffee and she finished her article!

"Crafty Stay-at-home moms turn to On-line Sales"  on

I thought it was a great peek into why we sell on Etsy, and why it's important for us to do something we love, as well as contribute to our Family's finances. 

Then I got to the last couple of paragraphs with my quotes and I laughed out loud...I swear that was not supposed to sound like that!!! And then I kept laughing for about 2 hours straight. When I read my quote to my sister she said "yup - that sounds like you!"

Rest assured, I KNOW that I am a very, very lucky person - to be able to watch my kids grow up, to be an active participant in their lives, and yet still be able to provide a couple of hours of school for them each day, and myself a few hours to create and sell my work.

As I said in the article - the Balance in my life, between being Mom and Artist, has never been better, and I owe it in part to selling on-line. 

Let me make one thing clear - simply posting your Art of Craft on-line is not enough, and there is a lot of work involved.  But when everything comes together and sales and creativity can co-incide with supplementing the Family's income, that's a great feeling.

I'd like to share the other Etsy shops that are featured in this article!

And of course my Fine Art on Etsy shop by Kristina Laurendi Havens!

There is also a site mentioned,, a blog aimed at helping artisans market their products online, by Megan Auman.

If you are interested in learning more about Etsy Sellers who are making their shops a SUCCESS!
 Read this series "Quit Your Day Job" on Etsy's blog!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fine Art PRINT SALE in my Etsy Shop!

The ONLY time this year that I will be having a sale like this!

Now only $12!!

Now only $30!!

Sale ends when I meet 300 sales OR April 8th - which ever comes first!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pastel Drawing from the live male nude model. The progression of a pastel drawing.

Our life drawing group had a terrific male model last night.  And, as if that wasn't good enough, there were also Margaritas AND a profesional giving us free massages!  Man we were spoiled artists!

I took photos as I drew...I started with a blue watercolor pencil on a 12" x 18" piece of Wallis paper. 

Next, I softened the lines with a little bit of water and moved the paint around, starting to create shadow shapes and atmosphere.

Next I used a deep reddish brown Nupastel to block in some of the largest areas of shadow.

I started to layer colors, thinking not just about what the top layer should be, but what colors I wanted to underneath - such as various blues, purples, mint and olive greens.

I continued to add warmer colors and lighter colors to warm up his flesh tones.

I don't normally block in the whole atmosphere with pastel, but this time I went for it, bringing in some of the skin's under-tones into the background.

You can see more of my life drawings from the male nude model in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Girl with the Butterfly Tattoos. A new painting from the live nude model

I started this painting in our life drawing session last Thursday night here in Woodstock.  We have worked with this beautiful figure model before, and I asked her to hold a longer pose this time so I could add the line of tattooos down her leg.  I think I was overly ambitious!    I brought a large surface - this is a 24" square piece of masonite that is primed with gesso.

I blocked in the figure first.  This was such a great pose - it worked perfectly, from my vantage point - as a square format.

I was using this washes of acrylic paint and a large brush to block in the form and make sure everything was going to fit.  My surface was a little too slick.  I had applied the gesso with a piece of matt board - smoothing the gesso around the surface like i was applying Venetian plaster.  I like the effect, because certain areas of the painting, once stained with the paint, can be sanded away to reveal some cool textures.

You can see some of the texture in this detail.  I slowly added some deep reds on top of the blues, defining shadows and form.  After the whole figure was defined, I softly added the butterflies.  As I was painting, I didn't notice the butterflies at first - I only noticed her figure.  But then, after I started to add them in, it was like that's ALL I could see!  So I need to be careful as I continue to work on this painting - it's like adding words to a piece - sometimes, the eye only focuses on those pieces and not the whole.

As we finished up our live model session, one of my fellow artists approached the painting and commented that the pillow she is leaning on is actually taking the form of a wing (top right corner)  It makes me wonder if I should explore that a little bit....maybe not an OBVIOUS image of a wing, but something more subtle...the young lady told me that the butterflies were signifficant symbols of change and growth (if I remember correctly) and maybe the painting could be indicating that on a different level...I dunno.  Sometimes just picking the right color is hard! Maybe the symbolism needs to come out on it's own.

What do you think? See where it takes me? Push the idea of a wing? Paint it hot pink? I'm open to feedback!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Twitter success story...a follow-up to the Etsy article, Part 2

Let's keep chatting, shall we?  So you've decided to focus on your strongest body of work, you've started to connect with members of the Twitter community with like-minded interests, and now you are ready to build on those relationships!

Build Relationships

Answer questions, compliment a blog post or new piece, try and take an interest in what they are talking about. Of course you cannot do this with everyone, but what’s great about Twitter is you can do this quickly with several people each time you log in. And who knows if your interest in them will lead to an interest in you, and your work?

Think about how you build relationships in the real world.  It starts with a handshake, the simple questions of "what do you do?" "where are you from?" "where did you go to school?" etc.  On Twitter, it's just that simple, too! 

I find that a lot of what I post on Twitter are those little moments that are that moment (like about 1/2 an hour ago when I cut open a bag of green onions, only to realize, upon turning the bag over, it had a zip-lock seal on the other end...sigh)  But then other tweeters respond and I can laugh at myself and move on to the next thing!

If you are following people in a field you want to break into, be sure and respond to or re-tweet their interesting posts.  For example, if there is a blogger who you would LOVE to feature your work on their blog, pay attention to their current projects and show an interest in what they write.

Not everyone will write you back, but don't fret, and don't take it personally.  Sometimes they may mark your tweet and respond to it later, or may remember your name the 2nd or 3rd or 97th time you tweet back to them (remember - there's a fine line between friend and stalker) and then take a moment to really check out who you are and what you do.

Build on Your Success

Don’t be shy! Brag about yourself a little! Did you sell a big piece? Let us know! Did you finally master a new technique? Tell me how! Get into a major juried show? Awesome! I once had a fellow artist tweet to me, “You are always so positive about your art. I can’t do that with my own work!” To which I replied, ”Well if I don’t like it, who will?”

I am a firm believer in "Shameless Self-Promotion".  Well, maybe shameless is the wrong word...dilligent? aggressive? Maybe...but seriously! - we need to be our own best advocate for our work!  If you are a memebr of a gallery - awesome! Great! Your work should be there.  But the gallery owner will not ALWAYS push your work over another artist to a buyer. 

I spent a lot of time selling my art directly to buyers IN PERSON - at gallery shows and outdoor art shows as well.  I know the questions potential clients will ask, I know what questions to ask them about their needs, I know how to SELL my Art. 

Be positive about your work, show that you believe in what you are doing.

And then, when you have a great sale or story...let's hear it!  When my work was selected for a new frame collection in Restoration Hardware, I wrote about it - and got additional sales from it - because people who saw the work searched the web for "Restoration Hardware Art" and found my blog post.  Had I not said anything...I could not have built on that success.

***If you have any other questions, or some great tips on using Twitter - or a Twitter success story - I hope you share it here in the comments!***

I'd like to introduce you to another favorite Etsy artist, a great example of an Artist at Work!  Victoria Webb, also known as FuriousDreams.  We have chatted so many times, and share many of the same views on Art and Selling, and I hope you take a moment to visit her amazing shop!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Twitter Success Story...a follow-up to the Etsy Blog Article

I had the great pleasure of contributing an article to the very popular Etsy Blog about my experiences on Twitter.  The article focused on how my painting, "Guarded", ended up as the cover of Laura Mercurio Ebohon's Poetry Book, "If I look Inside".

First of all...let me say how humbled and moved I am by all of the incredibly kind comments that were left on the blog post.  I am so thrilled that people are being inspired by our story.  I love the comment from heidiburton

'I think Kristina's figure paintings are absolutely beautiful & full of expression - perfect for the cover of a poetry book.

"If you focus your efforts and always put your best work in the right light, you will see results." <--- so true.'

I was also so overwhelmed by all of the nice convos (e-mails) from fellow Etsy sellers, some who are old friends and some who are new, sharing their own stories, and also asking for some advice! So I will do my best to elaborate a bit on what I mentioned in the Etsy article, and hopefully some of these tips will work for you!


I create art in a variety of media and even a variety of subject matters, but my strongest pieces are my figurative works. So I focus my blog posts and the links I post on Twitter on my latest figure drawings and paintings, figurative art techniques, and figurative artists who inspire me. The biggest success stories I have from selling online all center around my figurative art.

I think this is very important, and a subject that is brought up in Etsy's forum often - "Should I mix my jewelry and photography? Should I sell my soaps and paintings in the same shop?"  There is no problem exploring multiple medias, different techniques, and various ways of expressing yourself.  I believe, though, that when you present a unified body of work, everything looks stronger, and your expertise in that area shines thru.


Seek out others who share your interests. Grow your sphere of influence by paying attention to who other tweeple are following. Are you a visual artist? You should follow galleries, interior designers, and other artists. Do you make luscious soaps? Follow boutique owners, spas and resorts. Design incredible jewelry? Follow fashion blogs, wedding coordinators, and style divas.

(Don’t forget to seek out tweeple in your home state and city as well!)

For Twitter, this is KEY.  When I first joined Twitter, I started out by following fellow Etsy sellers that posted their ID's in various forum threads.  As I started to read posts and respond, I followed who other Etsy sellers were chatting with and so on.  As I continued to think about "Who do I want to SEE my work?" I hunted for different phrases mentioned within tweets "art supplies", "gallery", "bought painting". etc.  I was looking for Tweeters who were talking about what I was selling!

There are other great ways to find quality people to follow.  For example, Decor8 has a very popular blog about Style and Design and a large following on Twitter - but she only follows about 10% of the people who follow her - she's following the ones SHE finds most interesting, and probably a lot of people I want to follow, too! SO I check out who she is following and add it to my list.

Start thinking about "who would want to see my work? who would be looking for the perfect custom necklace? who needs a perfect baby shower gift?" and start searching for those people. 


On Twitter AND on Etsy, don't forget to tell people WHERE you are.  I have met many fellow Artists in my area and had some great commission work come my way from people looking for Artists close by.  Search for people talking about your home town or a big city nearby, the college you went to, etc.

I have more to add...but feel as though I am getting I will continue in the next post!

I do want to add a link to one of my favorite fellow Artists Robin Pedrero. On Etsy, Twitter, and Facebook she is one of the warmest, kindest, and most talented Artists I have met.  It seems like she knows each of her followers personally.  But she also remembers to do two very important things as an artist - she is continually making new work and SHOWING her work in Galleries and shows.    I hope you follow her, too!

I will keep posting more tips and more of my favorite artists that you should be following :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pastel Drawing of the Female Nude in Red - worked, re-worked, and worked on again!

A few months ago I started this pastel drawing from the live model.  I was using Nupastels and working the surface over with light washes of water, creating these nice drips and shapes of color.   It's been waiting patiently for me to finish it up!  But I was a little nervous about going forward - I liked the immediacy of the drawing, the quality of the line...even though I knew it was "un-finished", the thought of finalizing it worried me.

I started out by pushing the aspect of the piece I liked the best - the warm, rich reds.  I love reds! I tried to not define the shape of the figure too much - she was no longer in front of me!  All I could do was push the color or the line quality at this point.

For some reason I started to add in blue.  This was not a good choice I think.  The blue was too harsh, and felt cold.  It also put too much emphasis on the triangular shape behind the figure.

So back to the reds!  I should mention that this is on a Pastelboard - a primed masonite board that has a great surface texture.  I was able to re-work the pastel several times, and if it got too saturated, I washed off an area and started again.

While the palette was improving, I wasn't crazy about the length of her torso and position of her knee.  Luckily, the kind model had let me photograph this pose, so I referred back to the photo on my computer and then went back to the drawing - making adjustments to her knee on the right - raising it up and making it larger, helping the depth of the figure from the protruding knee to the back shoulder.

I also added in a few other details in the drapery, and re-established the cast shadows under her breast and on her torso.  I think she sits better on the sofa now, and I'm glad I didn't hide all of the blue - it has come together pretty well!

You can see more of my Figure Drawings of the Female Nude in my Fine Art on Etsy shop.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Painting from the live male nude model. Block it ALL in!

For the last few weeks I have been painting, instead of drawing, during our sessions with the live model.  I don't work very large, usually 11" x 14" or 12" x 16".  I just re-worked the painting of the female nude back from last week - I had re-painted the background because I thought the blue was too strong and distracted from the figure.  But then it looked dull so I went back to blue!

I also defined the hand a bit more and just pushed the colors in a few areas.  I did not want to lose the fresh, bright colors of the figure or get too tight in the details since I was no longer looking at the model.

Last Thursday our group in Woodstock had the pleasure of working with a great male model, and I brought my acrylics again.  This time I was working on a canvas pad, and I didn't like the surface as much as the canvas boards - but we had a great pose with some dramatic lighting.

This is the beginning of the piece - I worked with a 1" flat brush, trying to establish the largest shapes, making sure the entire figure fit well on the page, and indicating the light and shadow.

Next I started to bring in some of the "local color" of his skin-tones.  I tried to avoid white at this point - I tend to get "chalky" if I mix in white too early.  And there was also a perfect, bright white hi-light on his head and I wanted to be sure that I didn't compete with it as I went on.

Blocking in more of the background and adding the light and shadow on the drapery to help establish the light source.

I want to finish this painting without defining the second leg - I want to keep the focus on his torso.  I have a couple references photos from the session so hopefully I can resolve everything.